Health> Vol.5 No.4A, April 2013

Illness beliefs about hypertension among non-patients and healthy relatives of patients

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Personal beliefs about illnesses have received increasing interest because these cognitions help to explain and predict preventive and therapeutic coping efforts, adjustment to a disease and health outcomes. We sought to explore and compare non-specialised illness representations of hypertension among adults never suffering from hypertension who had and had not lived with hypertensive patients. Design: Hypertension representations were explored in a community-based, convenient sample of normotensive Spanish adults of both genders from different educational backgrounds and with different family experience with this illness. Method: An adapted Illness Perception Questionnaire-R was used to assess such perceptions among healthy people in nine dimensions: Identity, Time-line, Consequences, Personal Control, Treatment Control, Illness Coherence, Evolution, Emotional Representations and Causes. Results: The participants’ beliefs mixed accurate and folk knowledge, while gender, age and education level had little impact, family experience (having or not having a relative with hypertension) strongly determined the content of hypertension representations. Participants with family experience held significantly stronger beliefs of controllability of the disease, both by patients and treatments, considered the disease as less stable and reported a lower emotional impact when thinking on suffering from hypertension. Family experience was the only significant predictor of illness cognitions. Conclusions: This study allowed us to know the perceptions of hypertension among non-patients and healthy relatives of patients. Our findings are useful in designing interventions aimed at hypertension prevention, particularly considering family experience with the disease.

KEYWORDS


Cite this paper

Castillo, A. , Godoy-Izquierdo, D. , Vázquez, M. and Godoy, J. (2013) Illness beliefs about hypertension among non-patients and healthy relatives of patients. Health, 5, 47-58. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.54A007.

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